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Airlines pushed up airfare during Vardah

DELHI: Airlines are selling tickets for economy class—one way flights—to cyclone-ravaged Chennai for as much as Rs31,000, inviting passengers’ ire.

Flights were cancelled on Monday after Cyclone Vardah hit the city with its wind speeds touching 190 km per hour, reports Mint.

“I was flying to Chennai today (Tuesday) but given the situation I asked them to give me tomorrow’s booking. They are asking for Rs20,000 for a ticket I had booked for just Rs5,000,” said a passenger who asked not to be named as he is a frequent flyer with the full service airline he was flying. “It was a personal emergency so I had no choice but to pay.”

Checks on airline websites showed fares for Chennai shooting up for Wednesday and almost no flights available for Tuesday.

SpiceJet was charging fares of upto Rs31,000 for an economy ticket while Jet Airways was charging fares for the same class at Rs24,000. Business class fares were at Rs34,000.

Air India was charging as much as Rs21,000 and IndiGo Rs19,000.

SpiceJet said the spike in fares could be because of a last-minute rush.

“We have protected all the existing passengers who were booked with us, so there must be one or two seats left last minute which automatically must have fallen in the higher bucket. These fares are automated and there is no manual intervention at all. As the situation eases over a day or so you will see normal fares available automatically,” a SpiceJet spokesman said.

Chennai based aviation analyst Mohan Ranganathan said, “During these times of calamity airlines should have been sensitive to passengers. Profit motivations should have taken a back seat even if required manual intervention.”

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